Afghans end Pakistan's pariah status
Afghanistan's cricket team flew to Islamabad today to play three one-day matches against the hosts' second side, ending Pakistan's two-year pariah status as an international host.cricket Updated: May 23, 2011 19:22 IST
Afghanistan's cricket team flew to Islamabad on Monday to play three one-day matches against the hosts' second side, ending Pakistan's two-year pariah status as an international host.
Afghanistan are the first foreign squad to tour Pakistan since militants attacked the Sri Lankan team in March 2009, killing eight people and wounding seven Sri Lankan players and their assistant coach.
"It is a big opportunity for the Afghanistan cricket team and I am sure the boys will take this to learn more and more," their coach Rashid Latif told AFP.
"This is an official tour and every tour has its significance," said Latif, a former Pakistan captain who took over as Afghanistan coach last year.
"The tour is approved by the Afghan government and I am sure this will be a small step towards reviving international cricket in Pakistan."
Cricket was made popular in Afghanistan by refugees who had fled to Pakistan when Soviet troops invaded their country in 1979.
Afghanistan has made rapid progress at the international level, finishing fifth in the World Cup 2011 qualifiers in 2009 and earning one-day status the same year.
They also won the World Twenty20 qualifiers that allowed them to play with top teams in the World Twenty20 in the West Indies last year.
Under Latif, Afghanistan beat Pakistan in the Asian Games semifinal in China last year before losing to Bangladesh and securing a silver medal finish.
They also won the International Cricket Council (ICC) four-day matches competition for Associate teams last year.
Latif said touring a full ICC member meant a lot to his team.
"It's a big, big thing for us and I hope that my players will show their abilities on the tour and a lot of Afghan people living in Pakistan will come to support their team," said Latif.
The Afghan team is led by all-rounder Nawroz Mangal, who has played 16 one-dayers and eight Twenty20 matches for his country.
Pakistan's 'A' team will be led by paceman Sohail Tanvir.
The three matches will be played in Islamabad on May 25, Rawalpindi on May 27 and Faisalabad on May 29.
Squad: Nawroz Mangal (capt), Mohammad Nabi (vice captain), Asghar Stanikzai, Moahmmad Shahzad, Karim Sadiq, Hamid Hassan, Noor Ali Zadran, Shapoor Zadran, Samiullah Shinwari, Shabir Noori, Javed Ahmedi, Dawlat Zadran, Nasimullah Khan, Gulbadin Naib, Mirwais Ashraf, Izzat Ullah.
Rashid Latif (coach), Saqib Faqir (fileding coach)